Media Partners Ozarks First continues the investigation into the current situation involving a police officer in Highlandville.
After KOLR10 Investigates revealed a Highlandville police officer was put on paid leave last week, more information has come to light in the reporting by Ozarks First Reporter Lauren Barnas, including the fact that the officer in question, Tracy West, is the former Police Chief in Reeds Spring who left that position earlier this year.
The complete updated report from Ozarks First is below:
After KOLR10 Investigates revealed a Highlandville police officer is on paid leave this week, we’re learning the leader who brought forward allegations against Officer Tracy West could face termination himself.
When we asked Highlandville Mayor Clint Ellingsworth if Officer West could be fired over accusations that he improperly dismissed a domestic assault case involving a baseball bat as a weapon, the mayor said Police Chief Warren Hagar’s job could be on the line too.
“There possibly is. There’s also a possibility that the police chief would be terminated,” said Ellingsworth. “It depends on what we were told the other night and what we find out in this investigation and whether it’s true or not.”
In a document obtained by KOLR10 Investigates, Chief Hagar is the person who brought to light allegations against Officer West and Mayor Ellingsworth, who hired West. Chief Hagar’s house burnt to rubble the day after our report aired. According to state fire officials, the cause of the fire has not been ruled accidental or intentional.
The documents show that Hagar recommended the mayor and Board of Aldermen terminate West, saying West improperly handled a domestic assault call when he did not arrest a man accused of assaulting a woman. 911 records show the caller indicated there was a baseball bat involved.
“He’s only been with the department since October,” said Hagar. “He’s already blowing off calls. They’re victims. Our job is to protect people.”
A state police agency will determine whether West violated state law during that domestic call in November, filing the case as “handled by officer” which effectively closed it. West is also accused of violating five Highlandville police policies. But the mayor is also now questioning the validity of those policies and the origin of the department’s handbook.
“I’ve been here 14 years and I don’t remember the Board of Aldermen ever approving those policies,” said Ellingsworth. “If they didn’t, they’re just words on a paper.”
The City of Reeds Spring confirms West was the police chief in Reeds Spring for about six years. The city parted ways with West sometime after Mayor Steve Rogers took office in April. West is not eligible for re-hire in Reeds Spring.
The Highlandville mayor says he didn’t have a position open when West applied to the force this fall.
“He called me and needed a job,” said Ellingsworth. “I didn’t really have an opening, but I made one. Because I know he’s a good man.”
Ellingsworth, who hired West, confirms that he did not conduct a formal background check, and explains his reasoning why.
“He was well known to the previous city clerk, myself, and some other officers,” said Ellingsworth.
Records from the state of Missouri Division of Public Safety show West has an active license through Peace Officer Standards and Training Program (POST), a regulatory program responsible for licensing law enforcement.